POMARINE JAEGER – (Stercorarius pomarinus)
The Pomarine Jaeger (or Pomarine Skua) is a pelagic seabird that is part of the same sub-order as the gulls and terns. It measures around 55 cm (22 in.) long. It has two morphs, a light one and a dark one. Most of the breeding adults have the light morph, where the birds have a white neck and breast, and white underparts, with a white patch near the wing tips. The head and top parts are dark brown. The dark morph is dark brown with a whitish neckband, and juveniles are dark brown on top, with mottled brown and white underparts, but their plumage can vary. The bill is long and pinkish with a dark tip, and the upper mandible ends with a hook. The central tail feathers (streamers) are longer during the breeding season. The legs and webbed feet are black. Both sexes are similar.
The English name ‘Jaeger’ comes from German and means ‘hunter’. The Latin genus name ‘Stercorarius’ refers to ‘dung’, as this species goes after fish scraps (offal) from fishing vessels. The name ‘Pomarine’ stems from ancient Greek and refers to the growth at the base of the bill during breeding season.
Pomarine jaegers feed heavily on rodents during their breeding season. Their reproduction cycles match rodent population levels. Nonbreeding birds have a more varied diet that includes small birds, insects, and carrion. When at sea, they eat mostly fish, some of which are stolen from other seabirds, including gulls larger then them. The jaegers can be found at the junction of ocean currents and upwellings that bring fish close to the surface.
The nest of this species is a shallow depression in the open tundra, lightly lined with plant material.
The pomarine jaeger does not breed on PEI, and its occurrence on the island is rare or uncommon in the fall, during its migration. There were two confirmed sightings at East Point in October 2005. Its breeding range covers the high Arctic around the globe. In the winter it can be found in the tropical seas in the Caribbean, off East Africa, in the Indian Ocean and as far south as off the east coast of Australia.